The Cache County Council listened to public concern Tuesday after announcing a potential 10% increase in property taxes. Chair Kyle Ward said the changes are due to the increasing market value of properties, not because of changes to the tax rate, but it is still considered a tax increase as the dollar-amount paid is going up.
Mike Morgan, of Mendon, said he’s been involved with these decisions before through his various offices with Mendon City. But he thinks the 10% increase is too much — especially as many people don’t get a 10% raise every year.
“I wanted to know why they felt they needed so much, and what was driving it. And it was frustrating to find out what was driving it was mostly mechanics," Morgan said. "With the way the property values have been increasing over the years, the mechanics are driving those percentages up much higher than they used to be.”
Some of the councilmembers agree, including Vice Chair Gina Worthen. Worthen and Ward both said they’d like to examine a way to lower the increase to only 8% through potential cuts, but due to rising costs of road maintenance and other county services, the council said an increase is necessary to avoid cutting services.
“The idea is that we do have to look at bringing it up a little bit every year. This is a problem that other counties and cities have had, is that they keep the revenue the same, and then suddenly, they’ll get more inflation, and then they can’t keep up and they have to raise it a whole lot," Worthen said. "So, there is wisdom in slowly increasing it, so you don’t have a huge increase one year. We still need to be careful about how, and look at the details. That’s important.”
According to the Utah State Tax Commission, Brigham City is one example of a city that did not raise taxes for nearly 18 years, then proposed a 111% increase in 2019. Four other cities of Cache County —Providence, Millville, Newton and Smithfield — were also among the top 10 cities to propose property tax increases.
The council said the majority of property tax in the state of Utah goes to the school district and only 1/3 of the revenue goes back to the county and city.
"All we can control is that county price," said councilmember Paul Borup. "And that's just a fraction of what your feeling in that pocket book."
The council has two more meetings to discuss the proposed increase — Dec. 3 and 10 — before coming to a final decision by Dec. 31.